Founder of SoundScan Sales Tracker Retires

Times Staff Writer

Mike Shalett, whose SoundScan retail tracking system turned the music industry on its ear by bringing accuracy to weekly sales charts, said Thursday that he is retiring to spend more time with his family.

Shalett, 51, will remain a consultant to Dutch company VNU, which purchased his market research firms in 1998. Rob Sisco has been promoted to chief operating officer of VNU’s entertainment sales unit, which includes such Shalett creations as SoundScan and VideoScan.

In 1991, Shalett and partner Mike Fine revolutionized the music business with SoundScan, a computerized system for tracking retail music sales. Previously, the industry relied on record store employee estimates that were subject to error.


SoundScan’s data indicated that country music and underground acts such as rappers N.W.A. were more popular than executives knew.

Critics have complained that the system under-counted categories such as Latin music that make a large share of their sales in independent stores that may not report to SoundScan. Shalett responded by increasing the number of independents covered by the system.

In 2001, he told The Times that he had eliminated some stores that appeared to be distorting the data.